Sweet Potato Gordita With Achiote Pork Cheeks and Tomatillo Salsa



  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 jalepenos
  • 3 serrano chiles
  • 3 serrano chiles
  • 1 pound tomatillos (Husks Removed)
  • 1/2 cup white onion (Chopped)
  • 1 cup cilantro (Chopped)
  • 1 pound sweet potato
  • 1/2 pound fresh masa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces vegetable shortening (Solid)
  • 5 pounds pork cheeks
  • 3 ounces achiote paste
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup key lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • banana leaves (Softened)


  1. Bake or microwave potatoes until they are soft. Peel and mash. Combine with masa, salt and shortening. Form into small cakes; flatten. Cook in an ungreased skillet until light brown on both sides. These can be made ahead of time and reheated in the oven.
  2. Place pork in a resealable plastic bag; set aside. Pour achiote paste, juices and salt in blender container; pulse until smooth. Pour over pork; seal bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours. When ready to bake, place softened banana leaves in a deep roasting pan. Place pork and marinade on the leaves; fold banana leaves over pork. Cover the pan with lid or foil. Bake in a 325 degree F. oven for 3 hours or until pork is tender. Bake, uncovered for 30 minutes more. Skim the fat; serve meat juices with pork.
  3. Place all ingredients except cilantro in medium saucepan. Heat on High until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Drain liquid; set aside. Place remaining tomatillo mixture in blender container. Pulse until chunky, adding reserved liquid as needed. Pour into bowl; stir in cilantro. Serve with pork. Can be refrigerated up to 2 days. Makes about 3 cups. This is a very versatile and easy-to-make salsa. It can be spicy or mild and served either hot or cold.
  4. Soften banana leaves by dipping them in boiling water.
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